Medium Red Clover





Medium Red Clover (Trifolium pratense) is also known by the names

Common Red Clover, Broad-Leaved Clover and Meadow Trefoil. The term

medium has doubtless come to be applied to it because the plants are in

size intermediate between the Mammoth variety (Trifolium magnum) and

the smaller varieties, as the Alsike (Trifolium hybridum) and the

small white (Trifolium repens). But by no designation is it so

frequently referred to as that of Red Clover.



This plant is spreading and upright in its habit of growth. Several

branches rise up from the crown of each plant, and these in turn

frequently become branched more or less in their upward growth. The

heads which produce the flowers are nearly globular in shape, inclining

to ovate, and average about one inch in diameter. Each plant contains

several heads, and frequently a large number when the growth is not too

crowded. When in full flower these are of a beautiful purple crimson,

hence, a field of luxuriant red clover is beautiful to look upon. The

stems of the plants are slightly hairy, and ordinarily they stand at

least fairly erect and reach the height of about one foot or more; but

when the growth is rank, they will grow much higher, even as high as 4

feet in some instances, but when they grow much higher than the average

given, the crop usually lodges. The leaves are numerous, and many of

them have very frequently, if not, indeed, always, a whitish mark in the

center, resembling a horseshoe. The tap roots go down deeply into the

soil. Usually they penetrate the same to about 2 feet, but in some

instances, as when subsoils are open and well stored with accessible

food, they go down to the depth of 5 or 6 feet. The tap roots are

numerously branched, and the branches extend in all directions. When

they are short, as they must needs be in very stiff subsoils and on thin

land underlaid with hard soil, the branches become about as large as the

tap roots. It has been computed that the weight of the roots in the soil

is about equal to the weight of the stem and leaves.



Medium red clover is ordinarily biennial in its habit of growth, but

under some conditions it is perennial. Usually in much of the

Mississippi basin it is biennial, especially on prairie soils. On the

clay loam soils of Ontario, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, Indiana and some

other States, it is essentially biennial, but many of the plants will

survive for a longer period. In the mountain valleys in the Northwestern

States, and on the Pacific slope west of the Cascade Mountains, it is

perennial. Medium red clover meadows in these have been cut for several

successive years without re-seeding the crop. The duration of this plant

is also more or less influenced by pasturing as compared with cutting

for seed. Grazing the plants has the effect of prolonging the period of

their growth, while maturing seed from them has the opposite effect.



Medium red clover is characterized by a rapid growth. Seed sown in the

spring has in certain climates produced a crop of hay in 120 days from

the date of sowing. It is also most persistent in its growth from spring

until fall when sufficient moisture is present. In this property it far

outranks any of the other varieties of clover. It comes into bloom in

the South during the latter half of May and in the North during the

month of June, early or later, according to location, and in about sixty

days from the time that it is cut for hay. Ordinarily, a second cutting

of hay may be taken from it and still later some pasture.



It furnishes excellent pasture, soiling food and hay for nearly all

classes of live stock. While it is much relished by the stock, it is

probably not exceeded in its capacity for quick and prolonged growth

throughout the growing season by any pasture plant, except alfalfa. For

a similar reason it stands high as a soiling food. No other variety of

clover grown in America will furnish as much of either pasture or

soiling food. For animals producing milk and for young animals, the

pasture is particularly excellent. It is also the standard pasture for

swine where it can be grown, and where alfalfa is not a staple crop.

When the hay is well cured, it makes a ration in even balance for cattle

and sheep, and for horses it is equally good. The prejudice which exists

in some quarters against feeding it to horses has arisen, in part, at

least, from feeding it when improperly harvested, when over-ripe, when

damaged by rain, or by overcuring in the sun, or when it may have been

stored so green as to induce molding. It may also be fed with much

advantage to brood sows and other swine in winter.



As a soil improver, medium red clover is probably without a rival,

unless it be in mammoth clover, and in one respect it exceeds the

mammoth variety; that is, in the more prolonged season, during which it

may be plowed under as a green manure. Its quick growth peculiarly

adapts it to soil enrichment. For this reason, it is more sown than any

of the other varieties in the spring of the year, along with the small

cereal grains to be plowed under in the late autumn or in the following

spring, after the clover has made a vigorous start, since it produces

two crops in one season, the first crop may be harvested and the second

plowed under after having made a full growth. This can be said of no

other variety of clover. More enrichment is also obtained from the

falling of the leaves when two crops are grown than from the other

varieties.



The influence of this plant on weed destruction when grown for hay is

greater than with the other varieties of clover. This is owing in part

to the shade resulting from its rapid growth and in part to the two

cuttings which are usually made of the crop. These two cuttings prevent

the maturing of the seeds in nearly all annual weeds, and to a very

great extent in all classes of biennials. The power of this crop to

smother out perennials is also considerable, and when this is linked

with the weakening caused by the two cuttings, it sometimes proves

effective in completely eradicating for the time being this class of

weeds.





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